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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

iNFiNiEN

iNFiNiEN

Review by Gary Hill

If you’ve read a lot of my reviews and been observant, you’ll know that I really like music that combines disparate genres into a unique sound. Well, for that reason I think this CD is great. Actually, it’s very listenable, too – so that’s just one of the reasons I like it. The music here combines world sounds, jazz, progressive rock, space rock and jam band with some other minor elements to create a musical mélange that is challenging and yet accessible. The vocals on the CD call to mind Gwen Stefani at times and Tori Amos at others – and are different from either of those at other places. You’ll probably hear a lot of different musical concepts and leanings on this disc, but if you like adventurous music, you’ll love this one.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Knock Knock - (disappear)
This just sort of bursts into existence. Weird psychedelic rock and world music merge to create the backdrop for the vocals. I love the bass that moves around behind it all. Their are some cool world music explorations on this. It would be hard to separate out the DNA of the various parts (world music, jazz and prog rock) of the first section this cut from one another. As it moves toward the second half, though there is a dropped back movement that's almost pure jazz. Around the two and a half minute mark it moves out to a weird exploration that's mostly prog rock and space music. That powers upward as they continue marching forward. It gets pretty crazed before a crescendo gives way to a mellower, freeform kind of thing. It eventually works out to more of a groove jam that has a lot of jazz in it. That takes the piece to the end.
Aquatica
The opening portion of this reminds me a lot of Tori Amos. They take us out into a more jazz meets rock arrangement from there, but the vocals still seem to bring that kind of a comparison with them. As this carries on the rocking motifs become the dominant form and they take us through a series of changes and alterations. At points this is more closely attuned to space rock. At other times it seems more along the lines of jazz.
Make The Choice
They bring this one in faster paced and dramatic. It’s got an almost RIO element to it, but is also not far off from some of the earlier King Crimson. This becomes quite an intriguing piece of music. Dramatic prog rock is combined with the occasional world music element. And then there’s the pure jazz. You can also make out some jam band music, especially in the psychedelically tinged instrumental segment later. There is also a cool jam still further down the road where we get jazz combining with world music. 
Breathe Easy
Piano starts this in a balladic fashion and the cut goes from there into a smooth jazz ballad kind of arrangement. Some retro rock music is incorporated into this later. The track is overall quite an interesting blend of sounds and it works very well. It’s one of the more accessible cuts here, but also one of the stronger ones for repeat listenings. It gets a bit more energized and harder rocking towards the close. 
Trivial Pursuit
Perhaps the most pure jazz cut in the entire set, this is also a great piece of music. It does wander off into some spacey textures mid-track, though. From there they lead us out into a jam that feels very much like King Crimson to me. As the guitar is powered up in this arrangement it has a definite Dream Theater-like element, but once the piano and voice join the jazz stylings dominate again. Those contrasting motifs seem to fight for control later, though. This is a great tune. 
Into Pieces
Although in some ways this is more straightforward and accessible than some of the other music here, it’s also got some challenging musical concepts. The combinations aren’t all that different from a lot of the rest of the disc, but the overall delivery method comes across in a unique way. This might be my favorite cut on show here.
Spiritual Rats
The world music elements are really the biggest driving force here. They bring a barrage of progressive rock changes and sensibilities to the table alongside this, though. It’s a cool and unique piece of music. Later in the cut they do shift this to more pure jazz (at first) and then progressive rock. The world music themes are brought back into play after a time amidst this new musical universe. We get a little bit of psychedelia to end the track. 
Despierta
Combining jazz, jam band and world music sounds into a swirling sort of jam that’s got some definite King Crimson and Pentwater woven into it, the introduction on this is quite cool. They drop it out to a reggae goes Latin approach for the vocals – the lyrics of which are in Spanish. There are some prog elements woven into this part of the track, but they power it out from there in a full on modern prog instrumental extravaganza. A jam band goes Latin instrumental motif is next in the succession of varied changes. The vocals return later over the top of a soaring prog jam and this is purely incredible as it continues building.  
Beauty Is Beast
A full mellow jazz ballad treatment starts this off and holds it for almost the whole track. There are some variations and the musical themes intensify at times, but overall it retains this jazz sound. There is a short bit of more pure prog rock almost at the end of the piece. 
Perpetual Twilight
As this comes in it reminds me of early Yes, but when the horns jump in very quickly it has a more jazz edge. It is dropped way back to a musical journey that again makes me think of early Yes – albeit with more jazz infused. They power this out around the minute and a half mark into a killer high energy soundscape that’s definitely got a lot of both progressive rock and jazz in its midst. There is some more pure prog in an instrumental segment that comes out of this and I can hear bits of King Crimson and Dream Theater at times. Still, it resolves back out to more pure jazz from there to carry on. A couple minutes later, though it works out to a more sparse arrangement that’s rather like RIO meets space rock. Eventually this gives way to a reworking of the energized progressive rock movement and that holds it for a time. Then it drops way down for more music more in keeping with the stripped down earlier motif – with the addition of some Rock In Opposition to the mix. It certainly incorporates both jam band and space elements as it carries on. As it powers back out from there the jam band sounds mix with more pure progressive rock and jazz into another killer instrumental movement. At almost ten minutes in length, this is the disc’s longest piece by quite a margin. It might well be the best one, too. In any event, it’s a great closer.
 
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